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Who’s Beloved?

This week, Salvation South reflects on matters of faith and tells stories about love and reconciliation.

When we launched Salvation South almost a year ago, of course a few people asked us if our name meant we were a “faith-based” or “religious” publication. The answer then — and now — is no, we aren’t. 

Love is our message, and we believe that message applies to people of every faith or no faith at all. And all who believe that are welcome in the Salvation South house. 

That said, however, we are certainly informed by faith. There are several reasons for this. First, we believe it’s impossible to cover the American South while ignoring matters of faith. Our region has been soaked in religion forever (“Christ-haunted,” Flannery O’Connor called it). Second, when we look around our region in the 2020s, we see that many good ideas and initiatives — designed to reach across the barriers that divide people — are coming from faith-based groups of all stripes. And finally, we happen to be people of faith ourselves, so naturally, our beliefs influence what we publish. 

Our bottom line, our core belief, is this: that the best thing all of us can do to bridge the divides is to treat our fellow humans with love. We hope the stories we publish every week reflect that desire to love in one way or another. 

A few months ago, through the church we attend, we got acquainted with the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, Rob Wright. He is the first African American bishop in the history of the Atlanta diocese, and his words inspire folks — regardless of their faith or lack thereof — to be their best selves. Bishop Rob has a very cool podcast called “For People,” and he asked me to appear on his show. We had a great chat. 

Not long after, the diocese asked me to appear in a video series it produces called “Beloved,” in which they ask Episcopalians to talk about what the word “beloved” means to them. 

When I hear that word, I always think of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words about the “beloved community that he envisioned. 

“Love is creative and redemptive,” he said in 1957. “Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the ‘fight with fire’ method which you suggest is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community. Physical force can repress, restrain, coerce, destroy, but it cannot create and organize anything permanent; only love can do that. Yes, love—which means understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill, even for one’s enemies—is the solution to the race problem.”

The Atlanta diocese is doing some interesting, ground-breaking work in digital communication, and we’re exploring ways Salvation South can work with them to amplify each other's messages of love. Stay tuned. We're excited about the possibilities.

In our publication this Friday, we continue our work to tell stories that help folks reach a deeper understanding of the ugly parts of Southern history. We begin with a piece called “The People of Africatown” — a story about a group of once enslaved people who built a self-sustaining community more than a century ago on the shores of Mobile Bay. We also have an essay called “Ghost Stories, Master Race” that covers the state of Virginia’s efforts in the early 20th century to keep the “purity” of the white race through a program of forced sterilizations. And finally, we offer a poem that reminds all of us we are responsible for taking actions that increase the love between ourselves and our brothers and sisters. 

Keep loving one another, y’all. It’s the only answer.

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About the author

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Chuck Reece is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Salvation South, the weekly web magazine you're reading right now. He was the founding editor of The Bitter Southerner. He grew up in the north Georgia mountains in a little town called Ellijay.

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